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Take a trek into the wild

People living with limited mobility have few options for venturing into the wild, but a new trek program led by a founder of the Nevada County Land Trust is making nature trips easier.

Twice a month, Bill Nickerl leads natural history tours on trails especially designed to accommodate wheelchairs as an expansion of his weekly treks for health program. The treks are organized in partnership with FREED Center for Independent Living.

Apart from the Independence Trail, on the South Fork Yuba River, and Litton Trail, in Grass Valley, few local trails offer paved or well-packed surfaces wide enough for a wheelchair, Nickerl said.



Becoming involved with the program has opened his eyes to the need for more trails that suit everyone.

“I’ve checked out every place I can think of. What we’re finding is, we have to go out of the area,” Nickerl said.




In June, groups will travel to view riparian habitat and orchids on the Rock Creek Trail, 14 miles from Grass Valley. Later that month, they will travel 73 miles to see Frazier Falls and the Sand Pond at the base of the Sierra Buttes.

In July, trekkers will learn about the history of the Donner Party at Donner State Park, in Truckee.

More wheelchair accessible trails are on the horizon with the development of Hirschman’s Pond later this month.

“It’s not that much more expensive. It’s something that needs to be thought of when doing a project,” said Ana Acton, director of FREED.

“It’s about inclusiveness and usability for everyone,” she said.

At 14, a car accident forced Acton to start a new life in a wheelchair. As a person with a passion for outdoor recreation, she began racing wheelchair mountain bikes for Team Phoenix.

As the director for FREED, Acton now is dedicated to broadening outdoor experiences for people.

“There’s some people who need it,” It’s not only healthy for their physical state, but their mental state as well, Acton said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

Treks for People with Limited Mobility meets at 9 a.m. every second and fourth Saturday at the Beam Center parking lot on Henderson Street in Grass Valley. The cost is $3 for Nevada County Land Trust members and $5 for nonmembers.

For more information, visit info@nevadacountylandtrust.org or call 272-5994.


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